Aardvark Israel Gap Year - Selah Track

SELAH is a dynamic Jewish learning program for high school graduates who are seeking a deeper approach to the study of Judaism in Israel.  The biblical word "selah" means "stop and listen" or "pause and think about that” and our students do just that through their unique and intensive Jewish educational track. The program's mission is to develop a cadre of creative, young Jewish leaders inspired by Torah Lishmah, motivated by a love of the Jewish People, and enthused by the rebirth of Medinat Yisrael.

Among the highlights of Selah are a unique and dynamic enrichment program designed to foster individual growth and develop a deeper understanding of Judaism and Zionism, and the top-notch, inspiring staff of Rabbis and Educators who guide students through the year.  In addition to an exciting Beit Midrash program and Hesed component with volunteer work and internships, the program also incorporates an experiential spiritual learning program of informal educational activities.

Participants in Selah will have a variety of opportunities to build a strong connection with Israel - its people and the land - and further develop their understanding of Judaism.  Through studies, Shabbatonim, special volunteering projects, and interactions with Israelis, students will continue to be inspired throughout the year.


Our Goals

The Selah program aims to encourage a love of Judaism and Zionism in students.  We strive for them to feel a commitment from within and not interpret Judaism as imposing from the outside.  Our students will learn Torah l’shma while developing their Jewish consciousness and activism.  They will also learn to take responsibility for their Judaism - a Judaism that is authentic to them personally.  They will develop into spiritually sensitive and aware Jews. Simply put…mentsches.

We strive to provide a program which:

  • Deepens the student’s Jewish identity through relationship with Torah
  • Spurs personal growth and self-awareness with an emphasis on authenticity
  • Inspires sensitivity and responsibility to the individual and the Jewish People through Service
  • Connects the student with Israel through meaningful experiences and relationships with Israelis

Rabbis and Educators - The Key Ingredient

The staff of Selah is made up of an exceptional group of proven educators.  Click here and you will see for yourself!  Their bios really paint a better picture than we could describe here.

Selah Core Values

The Selah track puts a primary emphasis on Torah Lishmah in a Beit Midrash setting. Through interaction with highly gifted educators, the students build a transformative relationship with the Torah.  Immersion into Israeli society through volunteering and community service, or Hesed, coupled with unique educational elements ultimately provide the students with a deeply enriching experience.

Learning

With a focus on Torah Lishmah – learning for the sake of learning - students will immerse themselves in study during the first semester as they learn with a vibrant group of educators in the Beit Midrash.  Catering to diverse levels and interests, areas of focus will include Talmud, Halacha, Tanach, Machshava, and Chasidut.  Studying under exceptional teachers, the students will be challenged intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.

Additionally, students will explore Judaism and Zionism through a dynamic learning program that goes beyond the Beit Midrash, fostering individual growth and deepening of Jewish identity. Through a partnership with the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, participants may earn up to a full year of college credit while on the program.  The range of courses offered both semesters allow students to choose courses that interest them and advance them in their college careers.

Immersion

The program is designed to immerse the students into Israeli society so that by the end of the program they won't feel like tourists.  The goal of the program is for participants to interact with Israelis by integrating into Israeli society in order to become familiar with the cultural, linguistic, historical, and political realities of Israel. Students live in fully furnished apartments in the residential and centrally located Katamonim neighborhood of Jerusalem and Florentine neighborhood of Tel Aviv. They are encouraged to establish relationships with their Israeli neighbors, become part of their communities, and grow to feel "at home" in each city.

Hesed

The students volunteer or intern up to 12 hours per week second semester in a variety of Israeli organizations, using their unique talents to help create positive change in Israel. They are given a wide range of choices and are placed at sites that match their interests and skills.

Program Structure

The 9-month program is divided into two semesters and is a supplement to the popular Aardvark Israel Gap Year Program.  Students spend the first semester in Jerusalem and the second in Tel Aviv. In both cities, students have countless opportunities to participate in diverse community service and internship experiences, numerous enrichment options, and proximity to attractions such as the Old City in Jerusalem and the beach in Tel Aviv.

Fundamental to the SelahTrack is a belief that learning takes place outside the classroom as much as inside.  With Aardvark, the students go on excursions and field trips all over the country throughout the year to see various places in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as in the northern and southern parts of the country.  These weekly field trips include museums, visiting diverse communities, hiking in natural sites and more.  Two levels of excursions are offered in order to cater both to students who have little prior experience in Israel and those who have previously toured the country.  In addition a variety of seminars are held throughout the year on current and relevant topics.  Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the comprehensive public transportation system allowing them to explore Israel during their free time as well.

Selah Track September – January January - May
Jerusalem Tel Aviv

 

 

Sample Weekly Schedule in Jerusalem


Sunday Monday Tuesday 
Wednesday
Thursday
Morning Beit
Midrash
Beit
Midrash
Excursions
or
Free Time
Beit
Midrash
Beit Midrash
or Special
Interest
Program
Afternoon Academic
Studies
Special
Interest
Program or
Free Time
Excursions
Academic
Studies
Academic
Studies
Evening Group
Activity or
Free Time
Apartment
Meeting
Group
Activity or
Night Seder
Group
Activity or
Free Time
Monthly
Mishmar or
Free Time

Sample Weekly Schedule in Tel Aviv


Sunday Monday Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Morning Hesed
Hesed
Excursions
or
Free Time
Hesed
Hesed or
Special
Interest
Program
Afternoon Special
Interest
Program or
Free Time
Academic
Studies
Excursions
Academic
Studies
Academic
Studies
Evening Apartment
Meeting
Shiur with
Rabbi
Group
Activity or
Free Time
Group
Activity or
Free Time
Group
Activity or
Free Time 

Selah Enrichment Programming

Participants in the Aardvark Israel Gap Year Program Selah Track will be afforded a variety of opportunities to connect with Israel and their Judaism in ways they've never experienced before.  Through studies, experiential learning, Shabbatot, special volunteering projects, and interactions with Israelis, students will be inspired throughout the year.

  • Beit Midrash (first semester) – Courses will be offered on various learning levels in areas such as Talmud, Halacha, Tanach, Machshava, Chasidut and the Jewish calendar cycle.
  • Shabbatonim – Once a month, Selah will celebrate a Shabbat or Chag with different communities around Israel, including Simchat Torah in Safed, a desert Shomer Shabbat camping experience complete with learning how to build an eruv, a lively Shabbat at the Carlebach Moshav, Shavuot in Jerusalem, and Lag Bo'mer on Mount Merom
  • Adopted” Family – Each student will be matched up with a family with whom they can get to know personally. The families will be within walking distance from the Aardvark building in Jerusalem and they will be invited there for occasional Shabbat and Holiday meals.  It will be a great opportunity for students to get to know local families and establish a relationship that may last their entire lives.
  • Experiential Jewish Learning – Through a rich program of exciting activities, students will not only learn about Judaism, but experience it too – from diving for techelet (snails that make the blue dye on tzizit), to dunking in Tzfat’s famous Ari  mikve; from swinging a chicken over your head for kaparot on Yom Kippur, to staying up all night learning on Shavuot then davening at the Kotel for sunrise; from helping bereaved families on Yom HaZikaron, to making your own shofar for Chodesh Elul, to planting trees in Eretz Yisrael on Tu’Bishvat, to handing out mishloach manot in the streets of Jerusalem in costume on Purim.

Special Interest Add-Ons - Customize Your Experience

In addition to the core program, the Selah participants may choose add-on features for an additional fee.   These elective programs create a framework that taps into the talents and passions of the students by combining instruction with exposure to accomplished local professionals.  Through hands-on workshops, volunteering, seminars, academic courses, field trips, and interactions with local experts, students benefit from enrichment in their area of interest.  Creating immersion opportunities in the subjects that are most interesting to the student increases their sense of identification and appreciation for Israeli society and modern Israel.

  • Law and Government – Receive an insider’s look into law and politics in Israel, while also developing specific skills necessary in these disciplines, including public speaking, debating, and community organization.  Learn about the political situation in Israel as well as meet politicians, lawyers, judges and other important figures.  Visit foreign embassies in Tel Aviv and be exposed to world opinion and policy on Israel.  Volunteer for lobbying group and NGOs and gain a better understanding of issues such as the environment, illegal immigrants, and religious rights.
  • The Mind-Body Connection – Understand the body from a holistic approach through workshops, seminars, unique volunteer work, and enrichment activities, including the Israeli ambulance training course or a course in psychology, meetings with doctors and mental health professionals, volunteering in crisis intervention and support centers, workshops on alternative medicine, and more!
  • Entrepreneurship – Get a taste of Israel as the vanguard of the entrepreneurial marketplace.  Learn about the Israeli economy from a variety of perspectives: creating a company, project management, writing a business plan, creativity, finances, and more.  Intern with a small business in order to learn from within and meet successful Israeli entrepreneurs to learn from their experiences and gain a better understanding of Israeli commerce and economic forecast.
First Semester
Second Semester
Law and Government Mind Body Connection
Entrepreneurship

World Travel Add-Ons – Explore the Jewish World

The travel add-ons offer students the opportunity to participate in organized trips outside of Israel for an added fee.  Choosing an educational and recreational excursion, students delve into the history of the local Jewish community and their relationship to Israel.  Itineraries are designed to give students a relevant Jewish experience while also visiting the most popular tourist destinations in each country.

  • China – “Made in China”.  You have seen this stamped on most of the products you use so now it is time to go see where it all originates.  The trip is focused on Beijing a city of 22 million people.  Some of the famous sites you will see include:  Tiananmen Square, Prince Gong Mansion, The Forbidden City, Confucius Temple, Ming Dynasty Tombs, Temple of Heaven, Beihai Park, and the pandas in the Beijing Zoo.  And of course no trip to China is complete without seeing the Great Wall. And yes, there are Jewish and Zionist connections as well, which you'll learn all about while visiting Chabad, the local Jewish community, and the Israeli Embassy.

Participants and Alumni

We are proud of our students and alumni and the schools they represent.  Here is a list of the Jewish High Schools our current and past participants have graduated from:

American Hebrew Academy  (NC)

Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School (MD)

Bnos Academy (NJ)

Bnos Chomesh Academy (NY)

Bruriah High School (NJ)

Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (MD)

CHAT (Toronto)

Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit (MI)

Frisch (NJ)

Hasmonean High School (London)

Hebrew Academy Five Towns and Rockaway (NY)

Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (NY)

Herzlia High School (Cape Town)

Instituto Alberto Einstein (Panama)

Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy (PA)

Jewish Community High School of the Bay (CA)

King David Victory Park (Johannesburg)

Leibler Yavneh College (Melbourne)



Milken Community High School (CA)

Moshe Aron Yeshiva High School (NJ)

MTA Yeshiva University High School for Boys (NY)

New Community Jewish High School (CA)

North Shore Hebrew Academy High School (NY)

Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School (NJ)

Ramaz (NY)

Rav Teitz Masivta Academy (NJ)

Robert M. Beren Academy (TX)

San Diego Jewish Academy (CA)

Shalhevet High School (CA)

Solomon Schechter (NJ)

The Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School (FL)

The Hebrew Academy (CA)

The King David School (Melbourne)

Westchester Hebrew High School (NY)

Yavneh Academy of Dallas (TX)

Yitzhak Rabin High School (Ottawa)

YULA (CA)






 

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